102 minutes approx
Lawrence Talbot -
Benicio Del Toro
John Talbot -
Gwen Conliffe -
Written by -
Andrew Kevin Walker & David Self
Directed by -
When his brother Ben is killed by a beast in the woods near to his ancestral home, Lawrence Talbot returns from his touring theatre company to learn the truth about his death. He finds stories of a wolf and gypsies and goes on a hunt in which he is bitten and barely escapes alive. He begins to feel that he has a monster inside him and his father has him confined to a lunatic asylum, but when the full moon rises, the beast will out.
It seems like forever and a month since we first heard that THE WOLFMAN was being remade with Benicio Del Toro in the lead and when such a long time passes by without the film emerging we begin to worry about problems. This WOLFMAN has plenty of those.
The film is a throwback to the gothic horrors of yesteryear. With vampires so much in vogue at the moment it is no surprise that Universal would try to mine some of their illustrious back catalogue of supernatural stories, but it is surprising that so little attempt would be made to update it. After all, the vamps today are all lovesic teenagers rather than clones of the undead Count who started it all. And we don't just mean the period setting. It is easy to believe that this script was unearthed in some writer's office that hadn't been opened since the 1920s.
The sense of period is nicely evoked with some great production design. The lunatic asylum where Talbot is 'treated' (for which read 'tortured') is a fine example of Victorian stylings and the cinematography is wonderfully gothic with its foggy landscapes and lots of brooding. Everyone in this film is brooding. Benicio Del Toro has a face built for brooding, eyes peering out from beneath an impressive brow, but he isn't asked to do anything else at all. Anthony Hopkins also broods, but he chooses to send his brooding in via telephone, so disinterested does he appear in the whole thing. In fact it is left to Hugo Weaving as dogged police officer Abberline to bring any sense of danger to the piece whilst Emily Blunt is pale and interesting as the strong-minded love interest with ultimately very little to do.
All this brooding finally gets a bit tedious before the full moon finally crawls around and then the film bursts into life with a pastiche of KING KONG as an American werewolf is loose in Victorian London. And then there is the finale in which two werewolves fight for supremacy in a flurry of uncovincing superheroics.
Which brings us to the werewolf. The holy grail of the believable werewolf is still unattained, but in this day and age of advancing CGI technology it is bizarre to find a film using a man in a suit. It might be in the spirit of the original and work for the close ups, but when the wolf takes to the rooftops it is almost laughable.
THE WOLMAN is a handsome-looking production, but rarely gives us more than surface gloss.Top
If this page was useful to you please sign our